Headache Prevention

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on July 28, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Kenneth R. Hirsch, MD on July 28, 2014

Headache Prevention

If you suffer from frequent headaches there are certain steps you can take to prevent and manage symptoms. Unfortunately, some headaches, such as cluster headaches, cannot be prevented. However, there are ways to reduce the frequency and severity of other types of headaches, including tension headaches and migraines.

Take Medication as Prescribed

Most pain medications are supposed to be taken when a headache starts. However, there are limits on how often they can be used safely. Exceeding those limits can result in rebound headaches, or can lead to other uncomfortable side effects, such as nausea and dizziness, or more serious issues like gastrointestinal bleeding and stomach ulcers.

Prescription medication should be taken exactly as prescribed.  Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers should be taken as suggested on the package. You should avoid taking OTC medications regularly, or long term, without talking to a doctor.

If your medications aren’t working, don’t take more, as this can lead to potentially dangerous side effects. Instead, talk to your doctor. You may be better served by a different treatment option.

Avoid Triggers

For most migraine sufferers, certain foods and activities can bring on a headache. If you suffer migraines, keep a diary of when headaches occur. This can help you track down and avoid these triggers.

Exercise Regularly

Physical activity causes the body to release endorphins. These natural painkillers can improve your overall feeling of health.  Exercise can also reduce stress, which contributes to headache pain.

However, it’s important to exercise safely. You should always make certain to drink enough liquids, as dehydration can contribute to headaches. You should also start slowly. Sometimes sudden, intense exercise can cause headache pain.

Be sure to consult a doctor before beginning an exercise program.

Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep can trigger headaches and also cause stress, fatigue, and a weakened immune system. It’s important to get enough sleep every night. A regular sleep routine is also important in reducing headache risk. Going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day can help ward off headaches.

Stress

Stress can cause both tension and migraine headaches. Avoiding stressful situations is a good way to reduce headaches.

Relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation, can also help manage stress. They have been shown to be effective at reducing headache pain and frequency.

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